A year after opening, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is officially a huge success—to the surprise of nobody who’s tried to snag one of those precious free tickets over the last year.
Good Morning America checked in on the latest addition to the Smithsonian roster a year after opening day and learned that, “More than 8,000 people a day walk through the museum, twice as many people as organizers had prepared for.” Visitors come and spend hours, visiting a collection built largely—70 percent—on donations from people’s homes.
“I have to be honest. Two weeks before opening, I was terrified,” admitted director Lonnie Bunch. He asked himself whether it was the right move “to focus on slavery and to give people a real understanding of that,” and “to start with the slave trade and eventually get up to the promised land of music or film?” But, he continued later in the interview, “it really was about race. And it was saying, ‘We’re going to have to open the veil if we do this museum and talk about a lot of things that we don’t normally discuss.”
Anyway, he added, his wife pointed out that, “It’s too late now.”
It took decades to get the project off the ground in the first place; nearly 3 million people have visited in the last year.